At its membership meeting in Lexington, Ky., the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) unveiled plans for its 2001 national consumer promotions. Based on the success of its 2000 National Mystery Mutuel Voucher-the largest direct mail promotion in racing, with more than one million pieces distributed and a 7.8% redemption rate, more than twice the national average--the NTRA announced it plans to offer the promotion at two separate intervals in 2001.In addition, the NTRA has developed and refined integrated marketing and media campaigns for four other promotions designed to drive attendance and handle at NTRA member tracks. The NTRA's promotions for 2001 include:* Mystery Mutuel Voucher. Racing's first nationally coordinated direct marketing campaign offered a total of $3.7 million in cash prizes, including a grand prize of $1 million, through wagering vouchers that were to be redeemed at participating member tracks and off-track wagering sites. The 2000 Mystery Mutuel Voucher promotion, held on Aug. 6, resulted in
attendance increases ranging from 524% at Mountaineer Park to 22 percent at Keeneland. Three tracks, Ellis Park, Sam Houston Race Park and Aqueduct, showed triple-digit percentage increases in attendance. Pari-mutuel handle increases were largely double-digit, with increases as high as 48%. For 2001, Mystery Mutuel Voucher promotions are scheduled for March and August and again will be handled by Presort Services, Inc., which recently became the Official Integrated Marketing Provider to the NTRA.* Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship. The Championship, a series of handicapping tournaments conducted at NTRA-member racetracks and associations with a grand finale in Las Vegas, carried a $100,000 top prize and attracted 45,000 participants at 40 different sites in its first year. Fifty sites are hosting tournaments throughout 2000, with the finale to be held Jan. 12-13, 2001 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, which held the inaugural event.* NTRA Racing Experience. The NTRA's national mobile marketing tour features interactive displays and exhibits on Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing. In 2000, the NTRA Racing Experience made more than 30 stops in major U.S. markets, including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. * NTRA All-Star Jockey Championship. This annual, four-race event at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie in suburban Dallas features a dozen of America's top riders. The event has been televised for three consecutive years on ESPN2. Plans call for a renewal of the Championship at Lone Star Park next year, with a new consumer promotion to be developed to help drive simulcast handle at member facilities. * NTRA $1,000,000 Breeders' Cup Challenge. New in 2000, the Breeders' Cup Challenge is an Internet- and e-mail based sweepstakes that offers fans the opportunity to win $1 million by correctly selecting the winners of all eight Breeders' Cup races. A key component of the promotion is a series of customized e-mail messages designed to attract, engage and educate contest participants about the Breeders' Cup. Throughout 2001 and beyond, the NTRA will communicate with consumers who have entered the contest, creating a continuous dialog on Thoroughbred racing and its major events. E-Dialog, a Massachusetts-based direct marketing firm whose clients include the NFL and Ticketmaster, is providing data collection and e-mail communication services for the Challenge. Host Interactive, a division of Host Communications, Inc., is responsible for the game's functionality."With the success of the Mystery Mutuel Voucher, the National Handicapping Championship and our other national consumer promotions in 2000, we feel like this area of our marketing is off to a promising start," said Keith Chamblin, NTRA vice president-industry relations and marketing. "Building on this year, each promotion for 2001 will have significant advertising support. These promotions have measurable benefits for our membership."